Montag, 18.01.2016

The Nahda legacy in contemporary Arab thought

Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab (Beirut/Marburg)

an-Nahḍah (arab. لنهضة‎  for "awakening" or "renaissance”) is a cultural renaissance that began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Egypt, then later moving to Ottoman-ruled Arabic-speaking regions including Lebanon, Syria and others. It is often regarded as a period of intellectual modernization and reform.


The Nahda (“renaissance”) occupies a central place in contemporary Arab thought. Thinkers and writers of the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century continue to be relevant to current Arab intellectuals debates. In what ways does this relevance manifest itself and how can it be explained? What lines of continuity and discontinuity can be drawn in modern Arab intellectual history? This talk attempts to answer these questions by looking at two sets of debates: the one that occurred in the aftermath of the 1967 defeat and the one that took place in the 1990s under the headline of tanwīr (enlightenment).


Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab is a Lebanese scholar based in Beirut. Her training is in Western continental philosophy, but her research interest for the last two decades has been in modern Arab thought. Her focus has been on questions of cultural and political malaise. She has studied at the American University of Beirut and at the Fribourg University in Switzerland. She has taught for many years at the American University of Beirut and been a visiting scholar and professor at Columbia, Yale, and Brown in the US and in Bielefeld, Erfurt, Berlin, Bonn and Marburg in Germany. She will take up a professorship at the University of Doha/Qatar in the field of philosophy starting September 2016.

Her recent book, Contemporary Arab Thought. Cultural Critique in Comparative Perspective, published by Columbia University Press, came out in 2010, just before the uprisings. The Arabic version of the book won the 2013 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for the category “Development of Nations.”   She is now working on a new book called Critique, Enlightenment and Revolution. Arab Intellectuals and the Uprisings. It will be published again by Columbia University Press.

S202, 18.01.2016, 17.15 Uhr

letzte Änderung: 06. April 2016